Two missing cubs of the naallewale baghin or canal tigress, which died of suspected poisoning in MP’s Pench Tiger Reserve, have been found and sent to Kanha Tiger Reserve after thorough health check-up.
The cubs were traced from the core area of the tiger reserve, forest officials said on Saturday.
Carcass of the 11-year-old canal tigress was found on March 28 and her two dead eight-month-old cubs were discovered the next day. As the tigress was nursing a litter of four, the Madhya Pradesh forest department launched a search operation in the core area of Pench reserve on March 30 to trace the two other cubs.
The reserve’s field director, Shubranjan Sen, told HT over phone that they found the third cub on Friday, while the fourth cub was traced on Saturday morning.
“Both the cubs are healthy. In fact one of them was charging and bouncing after he was captured. Both the cubs have been sent to Kanha where they will be kept in a wide enclosure. They will be encouraged to grow close to nature and follow their instincts,” he said.
Sen said a young tiger remains with its mother for nearly two years after which it is ready to hunt on its own. “Both the cubs are males and we don’t want them to grow in cages, which will make it difficult to reintroduce them into the wild. So they have been sent to the Kanha reserve, which has facilities to keep such cubs,” he added.
Meanwhile, angry over the death of at least nine tigers in last eight months at Pench Tiger Reserve, local guides, jeep-operators and resort owners on Saturday protested by not taking tourists inside the forest.
The protesters also demanded a high-level probe and immediate removal of reserve officers, accused them of being responsible for the tigers death at Pench.
“The officials of the reserve who are allegedly responsible for the killing of tigers are now (themselves) conducting probe into the recent death of a tigress and her two cubs, which is suspicious. We demand immediate removal of responsible officers and a high-level investigation,” president of Guide, Gypsy and Resort Operators Association Narendra Dube told reporters.
The protesters also handed over a memorandum in this regard to Kurai Sub Divisional Magistrate K C Parte.
However, reserve authorities said most of these deaths were due to natural causes or because of territorial fights among the tigers.
Reward for info on tigress’ death
The forest department has announced a Rs 25,000 reward for anyone who provides information on how the Pench tigress and her two cubs died
The forest department is investigating the matter along two lines – whether the water hole in the core area was poisoned or their kill was poisoned
The samples of the kill, viscera of the tigers and samples of water have been sent to a forensic lab in Sagar
Of eight tigers that have died in MP since January 1, seven are from Pench Tiger Reserve.
(With PTI inputs)